To address the short comings of the current state of local self governance and empower local government institutions, the following themes need to be investigated into:
1. Financial autonomy of different tiers of governance - How are taxes levied, collected and spent by different tiers of governance? Amounts devolved from Centre to States, States to Panchayats and Municipalities? State of financial autonomy of the States, Panchayats and Municipalities due to all this?
Reports of Central Finance Commissions, Planning Commission, National Development Council meeting minutes and State Finance Commissions would need to be studied to get answers to these questions.
2. The role of Gram Sabhas. Do the State Panchayati Laws give adequate powers and resources to Gram Sabhas to ensure active participation of the people in governance or are these just formal structures empowering Sarpanches?
It is proposed to obtain panchayat records under Right to Information from some states to seek answers to above questions. It is also proposed to attend Gram Sabha meetings to understand the practical problems faced by them.
3. Comparative Analysis of the Panchayati Raj and Municipal Systems in various states. It is proposed to study the Panchayati Raj and Municipalities systems including laws, rules and practices of different states across India and identify the good and bad practices in the same.
4. Best Practices from International Experiences. It is proposed to study the experiences of other countries in the area of local self governance and identify good practices which we can emulate.